Nick's Mailbag - October 13
Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Lyndell Holmes

Nick, thanks for all the info. My question this week is kind of disheartening. With the team as bad it is how do we expect to get better? We can draft high and get the best young players available but do we expect them to stay when they become free agents. I don't. The Rams can't expect to get the top free agents because players may want a big payday but they also want to win.
One last question, why not start the rookie at QB? Neither vet can get the offense moving and he could use the work. What are your thoughts?

NW: The Rams have already showed a more willing approach to keep accomplished young players and I would expect that to continue.

As GM Billy Devaney said his chat last week, the Rams like Nullís potential but heís nowhere close to being ready to contribute at this point.

Jimmy Christensen

Do you think it would be worth while trying to get Vince Young from the Titans seeing as he is not playing for them? Or would they not want to trade him?

NW: Young is likely to be back in the starting lineup for the Titans this week and I donít think thereíd be much interest anyway. He has to re-prove himself to Tennessee.

Jonathan Joseph

John Clayton of ESPN fame is reporting that the Rams are in preliminary talks with three teams concerning the possibility of trading Steven Jackson. The three teams are Dallas, San Francisco, and Miami. Billy is asking for two #1's, a #2, #3 and a second round quality WR or two #1's, a #2, and two #3's for Jackson. Clayton reported that San Francisco has offered Michael Crabtree, #2 and #3 in the 2010 draft and a #1 in the 2011 draft but Billy is holding out to entertain Dallas and Miami offers because he does not want the Rams to have to face Steven Jackson twice a year. There was no mention of what Dallas or Miami are offering but John stated that the packages would be something similar in mostly draft picks. How true is this Nick? Is it just a rumor?

NW: To my knowledge, that is completely false and ridiculous. Salary cap issues alone make it implausible and remind me again where the need for a high-salaried running back is on teams that already have the running backs those teams have? I have my doubts that was ever reported by someone as plugged in as Clayton. Sounds like an internet rumor to me.

Tyler Byers

Hey Nick,

I understand all the frustration surrounding the Rams season so far, and the pains that come with a franchise rebuilding. I just wanted to say I have faith in the Rams and the staff they have in place to turn things around for the future. I do have a quick question:

Marshall Faulk was one of the most intelligent football players on the field, and knew the responsibility of every person on the field. Has he shown any interest in a coaching job in the NFL?

NW: Faulk has stated before that he has no interest in becoming a coach. A more likely scenario should he elect to leave television is he could end up in a front office role for somebody somewhere down the line.

John Ros

Hi Nick! I'm a long time Rams fan from LA; back to the Vince Ferragamo days. I've notice that the team's biggest problem is taking themselves out of games with untimely penalties and turnovers. The defense is coming together well but the offense just can't seem to overcome these mistakes. Seems like the problem is more mental than physical. What's you insight on what the coaching staff are doing to rectify these mental errors? Thanks for your continued feedback.

NW: Thereís no doubt that those are the issues that need correcting, coach Steve Spagnuolo has said so himself on many occasions. I can tell you this; the Rams work those things hard during the week. The defense is taught to try to get the ball out as much as possible in practice in an effort for them to get better at getting takeaways and make the offense better at protecting the ball. Officials work practices on Thursday and Friday to try to hammer home the point about not committing penalties. The coaching staff can only do so much and emphasize it so much, though. Ultimately itís up to the players to correct those errors.

Gabriel Garza

Hi Nick,
I am a long time reader of your work but this is my first question. For the last few weeks there have been many questions and comments re talent level, and injuries, and this being a very young team. I feel this is a very competitive team for the first half; at least they are in the game. The second half is like watching a different team out there. My opinion on getting beat in the second half is coaching and stamina. What is being done to get this team into shape so they are not a step late on defense in the third and fourth quarter? And what is being done to prevent this young coaching staff from being out coached?
Miami brought in Parcells as a consultant and it made a difference.

NW: You make a good point, Gabriel. The Rams have been right there for most of the first halves this year and then been unable to get it going in the second half. I donít think itís a conditioning issue so much as just being unable to piece it together for 60 minutes. When one area seems to be doing well, thereís a breakdown elsewhere. Essentially, it comes down to being consistent in all phases of the game for all 60 minutes. Devaney made reference to it last week and it remains true every week.

Longtime Fan Callahan

After turning over 60% of the roster, and being 0-4 with games ahead against the Saints, Vikings, and Colts, isn't it time to call this what it is: the continuation of the re-building process? Can we start Null and see what he has?

NW: This is a rebuilding process. It has been called that many times before, in this space even. Itís going to take time. See earlier response on Null.

Gene Oliver

Hi Nick, Rams fan since Gabriel was the QB, It's hard to watch this rebuilding process again, I hope they know what they are doing it's killing us long time fans. Your best guess Nick when we might see a turn around? Old Rams fan running out of time!!! Thanks

NW: Sooner, rather than later. But it will take some time.

Justin Hernandez

Iím going to try to help lighten the spirits of Rams fans as best as I can. What Iíve seen this season is the ability to run the ball effectively. Also the defense usually opens with great energy (of course losing by the end due to the fact that they are continuously on the field). Now for my question, will the rams go after a second back in the offseason to bring a one-two punch to the backfield? I personally see this as an added benefit to both sides of the football with time of possession and keeping Jackson alive, not to mention usually the most successful NFL teams run a two back system. Thanks for your insight and time nick.

NW: Jackson is a franchise back and while the Rams would like to add some more depth at the position, this isnít going to become a two-back system where carries are shared like say the Giants. Jackson is and will remain the man and the Rams will fill in depth behind him.

Rich Williams

Hello Nick,

Obviously we're re-building, and as a life-long fan I have all the patience needed to see this through. The reality is this season is pretty much lost unless we run the table. Then why don't we experiment a little and see what we have in the youth movement - Boller, Null, Scott, etc. and even consider changing some positions for next season (can't change mid-season, I'm not totally nuts). I wrote you earlier this year about considering Chris Long at MLB - this was before the draft and picking up Laurinaitis, also moving Carriker to his natural DE position...and you basically laughed at me for suggesting it. Easy for me to play arm chair coach from DC - I would just like to see all options on the table so that in 2011 we can really make a run at this thing. I don't see the "outside the box" mentality or creativity with this staff that someone like, say Mike Martz, would scheme-up.

Your thoughts? I know - you think I'm crazy...go ahead and blast away.

NW: No blasting here, Rich, I love the enthusiasm and passion. However, I think some of the ideas are a bit counterproductive. You want to move one player to his ďmore naturalĒ position but you want to move others to a position they have never played before. To me, thatís just going to slow down the rebuilding process. While many of these players are amazing athletes, itís asking a lot to have them begin doing something theyíve never done before against guys on other teams who have been playing a position their whole life. I think the best way to do a rebuild is indeed to give these guys a chance but letís let them have some time to learn and adjust at their own positions. Youíll probably find some gems and see some real improvement. That way, when the time comes to make some moves and draft in the offseason, you know exactly where you need help and where youíre going to be OK.

Lyle Brief

Nick, what ever happened to Adam Carriker? He was supposed to be an important piece; I haven't seen any news on him. Thanks.

NW: Guess you missed it. He suffered a season ending shoulder injury before the season. He had surgery on it.

Josh Diton

Nick, I've always been a fan of the blue and yellow throwback jerseys. I was looking at the ones they have for sale on the site but they only had replicas listed. Are they going to have authentic versions of the jerseys for sale at any time, or are they just limiting it to replicas? As always, thank you for keeping us informed on the team as well as you do.

NW: As far as I know, the ones available on the site right now are the only ones that will be available. On the pro shop on stlouisrams.com, there should be Laurinaitis and Jackson throwbacks available.

Fred Woolf

Dear nick,
Wrote you a while ago about the offense spreading the ball around. You must have talked to the coaches, as the quarterbacks really had a good day against Minnesota. The Rams cannot play run, run, then throw, as the offensive line is going to need some time. Jackson has way too many no gain attempts, this demonstrates teams line up just to stop him and let the rest go. All of his big gains against the Vikings were set by the pass.
Since we don't get any ram games on TV do the rams try shuffle passes like they did with Marshall Faulk? If not, why not?

NW: There has been at least one shuffle pass attempt that I know of so you know itís in the playbook. The Rams have a variety of screens and misdirection plays, some of which you say work very well against the Vikings last week.

Paul Hart

Hey Nick, I agree with you on not pushing the panic button, but we need to start improving. My question is simple. What are you hearing from the coaching staff and players on what they are trying to improve on? These are areas that seem to be mental errors. I look forward to hearing your insight.

NW: To a man, every person in the Ramsí locker room is staying upbeat and positive all while focusing on trying to improve and do the things necessary to get more wins. All they can do is stay committed to the system, believe in one another and stay positive that it will all come together. You canít re-invent the wheel; you can use it more efficiently.

James Long

Who is going to take Gary Gibson's place for the rest of the year? It sucks that we lost him, he stepped up in every game he played and with Adam Carriker and Mr. Irrelevant out, and our front seven is wearing pretty thin. Congrats to James Laurinaitis for his 1st interception by the way, he deserves it and despite the loss, he should still feel happy.

NW: The Rams use a rotation on the defensive line so replacing Gibson will fall to a number of options. In terms of starting, it will likely be LaJuan Ramsey. Ramsey has showed promise in the early going. Leger Douzable and possibly Darell Scott could also figure in the mix.

Jason Krutz

Thanks for your time Nick!
I have two questions:
1) I keep hearing talk about the team building from the ground up with young players. What concerns me is the Rams of the past have gotten plenty of good young talent but fail to re-sign them after the original contract runs out, will this change with the new staff?

2) After 5 games my disappointment is focusing on Pat Shurmur's play calling, is he the man of the future for the team?

NW: 1. You make a good point but it certainly seems that those days are over. The Rams re-signed Ron Bartell in the offseason when many thought he would get away as he enters his prime. Oshiomogho Atogwe will almost certainly be around for the long haul. The guys that the Rams hit on that they deem valuable to the future will likely be retained henceforth.

2. Not sure what you didnít like against Minnesota but it seemed Shurmur and the Rams offense found a groove against perhaps the best defense the team has seen this year. Heís in his first year in the job and thereís a learning curve involved but progress was evident offensively last week.

Roger Koopman

Watching the Minnesota game reminded me how much I preferred the more bold, vibrant colors of the old uniforms over the muted, understated Rams duds of the new millennium. Coincidentally no doubt, but they were also a more dynamic (and successful) team when they had a brighter, more aggressive color scheme. And minus the muffs, the Vikings contest was the best, most dynamic game they've played this year. My question, Nick, is this. Any chance the Rams could run a poll of some sort, surveying fan preference on uniforms? I know switching back the color scheme would be a major undertaking, but I'd love to see it happen. Hey, maybe we can petition our brilliant politicians in Washington for some "stimulus" money. Call it "cash for clunker uniforms." Rams fans could turn their all their old stuff, and get a federal voucher to buy new, thus "stimulating" new sales. Okay. Bad joke. But I am serious about considering a return to the more bold, "out there" uniforms of the 90s. Any possibility that we can give that idea some legs?

NW: I donít know about a return to the old uniforms on a permanent basis but I do know the players liked them and it seems so did the fans. Iíll pass along your thoughts and if nothing else, I wouldnít be surprised if the throwbacks at least make it into some sort of a yearly rotation like many teams do.

Don Riley

Hi Nick, was the performance by the offensive line, against the Vikings, the best they've shown as a unit in the past two seasons? Also, who's Craig Dahl (I thought he showed the kind of stuff we need) tough and gutsy, but I don't know who he is? Is he one of players Spags will build around or did he just have a good game?

NW: I think you could certainly make the case that it was the offensive lineís best performance in some time. Alex Barron did well against Jared Allen and the pressure on Boller was limited. Jason Brown really caught my eye, doing an excellent job against Kevin and Pat Williams.

The Rams picked up Dahl from the Giants as a free agent in the offseason. Heís had injury issues in the past but thereís no denying when heís been healthy for the Rams, heís showed a knack for being around the ball. Nice, quiet find who will continue to get playing time in the nickel even when James Butler returns.

Chris B.

Nick, I don't think anybody expected the Rams to beat the Vikings, but I strongly believe that they can beat the Jaguars. What do you think?

NW: Iím not much for the prediction business but I certainly think itís possible.